Thursday, December 4, 2008

What the MTA Financing Plan will mean to New Yorkers. (It means you are screwed again)

Sorry to go off topic and talk local issues, but as a New Yorker, this is personal.

The MTA (the subway and bus and train corporation in NYC) has lied, cheated and stolen money from the people of the city for quite a long time, with outrageous fare hikes followed by reduced service and generally shitty and irritating ridership conditions. recently they tried their typical attempt at threatening the public by announcing a 23% fare and toll hike and massive reduction in service and even eliminating two entire subway lines.

The MTA had had a major funds surplus not a few years ago, but over the last couple years claimed it had just vanished and now they would be looking at a decaying subway ala 1970's if something serious wasn't done immediately.  So here is the plan:

Mobility tax.  Yes, right after election day, here come the new taxes.  A Payroll tax of 1/3 of 1 percent. Meaning your boss has to pay it, or if you are self employed YOU have to pay it (as if small business and self employed people dont already have enough problems).  So, for the self employed, if you make $1000 a week at your decent temp job, and thus take home $600, most of which goes to rent, and $20 for subways, that's an extra $12 you need to give to the MTA.  Thats a subway tax equivalent to a 60% fare hike!  And if your boss pays for it, I can just imagine you wont be getting any raise, or new office perks this year.

Okay, it gets worse.  Much worse.  

Tolls on East River crossings.  If you occasionally take a cab from the city back to Brooklyn or Queens, expect an additional $5-$10* toll per ride, effectively raising your cab fare 30-60%.  God forbid you drive your own car, as a daily commute would add $50-$100 a week to your expenses.  Harlem River bridges would only be $2 each way, but seriously, these bridges so small you don't even realize you are going over one.

*"The Commission recommends that tolls on East River Bridges be initially set at the same rate as those imposed on the major MTA bridge and tunnel facilities to eliminate bridge shopping."  -MTA Report to the Governor, Dec 2, 2008

And to top it off, the MTA, long a corporate entity with no track record of business success, except for it's criminal behavior regarding accounting practices, will be given MORE power by the city to do what it wants with the roads, rails and bridges of the city.  They will own it all folks and can force you to pay/play by their rules.

Such as, if they want to hike fares, they can now do it faster with less time for people to complain, and people will certainly do that as the MTA will now enforce a mandatory fare hike every 2 years or less if inflation or greed demands it.

So, okay, maybe you are rich and don't mind giving yr money to them, what does the MTA plan to give us back?

Well, they claim they wont lie any more about their money needs, and may even make a website showing you where money is going.  (woo hoo!)  They also won't raise fares immediately but give you a break for a year maybe.  They wont take too many services away and may actually improve long distance busses (tho pity the people who ride them anyway).  They may even finish the 7 train extension so we can all take a train to the Javits Center and the luxury condos going up there!  (wow!)  And maybe in our lifetime the 2nd Ave subway will be built just in time to connect the luxury neighborhoods of people who never take the subway anyway. (wise investment).  

Will they ever renovate or even clean your local station?  Or start using new trains that arent 45 years old? Or bring back express service on lines that once had it and are now so overcrowded they make Tokyo and Mumbai trains look comfortable?  Well, those are good questions, let's wait patiently and find out, assuming we all still live in this city long enough to see it.


and here's the NY Times' positive slant on the story

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